Albert's research mission is to push the frontiers of exploration through a combination of untraditional applications for advanced technology and the utilization of the ubiquitous connectivity that dominates and has redefined every society on this planet today. *This work is funded in part by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and the generous support of private contributors.



The following page is broken into several ongoing projects/programs ranging from high-tech archaeology to distributed health systems. At their core, these programs are connected through a "humanity first" theme and the exploration of technology, big data, and connectivity to redefine the "possible"...



The story of Genghis Khan has until now been spliced together through a collection of almost entirely secondary source text. It has become understood that throughout his rule, he had introduced an alphabet and central currency, united a kingdom of warring tribes, and had conquered the majority of the known world creating an influence that stretched from Poland to Japan, leaving a legacy of unsurpassed proportions. Yet the sources of this history have decidedly originated from the fearful pens of his enemies. The mystery that surrounded his death and burial during the summer of 1227 still eludes the world today. His tomb remains undiscovered, a time capsule into the days of birth of the modern world.

The Valley of the Khans project is an international collaboration between the University of California at San Diego, the Mongolian Academy of Science and the International Association for Mongol Studies, and the National Geographic Society to perform a high-tech, non-invasive remote sensing investigation for the tomb of Genghis Khan. It is funded in part by the NGS/Waitt Institute for Discovery, the National Geographic Expeditions Council, UC San Diego, and Industry and private support.  

The goal of the project is to identify the site of Genghis Khan's Tomb using noninvasive methodologies utilizing technologies ranging from aerial and satellite imaging, human computation, non-invasive geophysical surveying such as ground penetrating radar, magnetometry and electro-magnetometry  and 3D data visualization.   By providing a physical location for the site through these non-invasive tools the project will enable protective measures through organizations such as UNESCO World Heritage for long-term sustainable conservation.

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(note: the bellow video was created by team members after the first of three major expeditions. A one hour National Geographic Documentary film about this work, entitled "The Forbidden Tomb of Genghis khan", has since been created and shown on the National Geographic Channel both nationally and internationally.  See related links for more info)

Follow the Latest Blog from the Expeditions:

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Related links:




The goal of this research is to develop human computation concepts that efficiently harness the power human perception on a massive scale and combine that collective human response with machine learning. This effort, motivated by the satellite and aerial remote sensing component of the Valley of the Khans Project, has allowed us to test theories of a new age in the human/computer relationship.

What is Human Computation?

Human Computation, often referred to as Crowdsourcing, is an emerging field of computer science in which problems are approached by engaging large numbers of participants, knowingly or unknowingly, to participate in collective initiatives through innovative online platforms.

Harnessing the efforts of millions of people working toward a singular goal presents a major challenge that is becoming increasing relevant as virtual networks such as Facebook and MySpace open the possibility of massive collective initiatives. Concurrently, computation requirements are evolving beyond questions with discrete answers; fields like computer-vision are reaching the limits of a computer-only approach. Combining these two trends this proposal investigates a revolutionary concept with wide ranging applications (e.g. real-time imagery emergency response, defense intelligence, conservation, basic science, global education) and transformative impact in all areas of computation. Utilizing the collective human experience for active machine learning will define the path through which the digital world evolves.

Current Developments:

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Currently the Valley of the Khans Project, in partnership with National Geographic Digital Media, and the Geoeye Foundation have launched a major human computation effort that was performed in parallel to the recent 2010 field expedition to enable real time ground truthing and feedback to users online. The program has received over 2300000 data inputs from the public since its launch in mid June of 2010.

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To participate enter:



The Distributed Health Lab is a team of dedicated researchers, designers and technologists who believe in a new age of technology enabled global health.  We understand that the ubiquitous connectivity which spreads across every corner of our planet has the power to change our understanding of physical boundaries, and we choose to leverage these pipelines of information to re-invent the "global village".  Our philosophy is centered the notion that inexpensive and interconnected technology can help us (our users) to change the global health equation; be it individual, community, or environmental health.  Our mission is to create an open community of innovators and adopters to make that happen. 

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Exploration and engineering have gone hand-in-hand through time, allowing humans to explore the deepest oceans, highest mountains and farthest galaxies through the lens of science and technology. The National Geographic Society has been one of the world's leading engines of exploration for over 125 years, inspiring others to care about the world. Combining world-class exploration with the top engineering minds is the goal of this multi-institutional program.

UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and the National Geographic Society created a partnership with the UCSD-NGS Engineers for Exploration program ( Located within the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and as part of its Center of Interdisciplinary Science fpr Art, Architecture, and Archaeology (CISA3), this program provides a multi-disciplinary platform for students to engage and contribute directly to National Geographic exploration. Undergraduate research opportunities have been made possible through the National Science Foundation.



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Current Projects from NGS: Engineers for Exploration on Vimeo.



Lin, A.Y.M., Huynh, A., Lanckriet, A., Barrington, L. (2014) Crowdsourcing the Unknown: The Satellite Search for Genghis Khan, PloS One 9 (12) [link].


Lin, A.Y.M., Huynh, A., Barrington, L., Lanckriet, G. Search and Discovery in Human Computation. In Handbook of Human Computation, Springer- New York (2013), pp.171-186.


Levy, T.E., Smith, N.G., Najjar, M., DeFanti, T.A., Kuester, F.and Lin, A.Y.M. (2012) Cyber-Archaeology in the Holy Land: The Future of the Past. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society eBook 


Huynh, A., Lin, A.Y.M. (2013) Mobile Analysis of Large Temporal datasets for Exploration and Discovery. 2013 Digital Heritage Conference Proceedings.


Huynh, A., Ponto, K., Lin, A.Y.M. (2013) Visual Analytics of Inherently Noisy Crowdsourced Data on Ultra High Resolution Displays.  2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings.


Huynh, A. and Lin, A.Y.M. (2012) Connecting the Dots: Triadic Clustering of Crowdsourced Data to Map Dirt Roads.  Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Pattern Recognition.


Lin, A.Y.M., Novo, A., Har-Noy, S., Ricklin, N., Stamatiou, K. (2011). Combining GeoEye-1 Satellite Remote Sensing , UAV Aerial Imaging, and Geophysical Surveys in Anomaly Detection Applied to Archaeology IEEE J-STARS, vol 4, page 870-876. 

Barrington, L., Ghosh, S., Greene, M., Har-Noy, S., Gill, S., Lin, A., Huyck, C. (2011). Crowdsourcing Earthquake Damage Assessment Using Remote Sensing Imagery Annals of Geophysics, vol. 54, no. 6. 

Lin, A. Y.M., Novo, A., Weber, P.P., Morelli, G., Goodman, D., Schulze, J. (2011) A Virtual Excavation: Combining 3D Immersive Virtual Reality and Geophysical Surveying, International Symposium on Visual Computing, ISVC 2011, Part II, LNCS 6939, pp. 229–238. 

Lin, A.Y.M. (2010) ”The search for Genghis Khan: Using modern tools to hunt for an ancient past” Aerospace Conference, 2010 IEEE , vol., no., pp.1-2. 



National Science Foundation

National Geographic Society

Private Donations